Developers want more time to build the controversial Cougar Bay subdivision south of Coeur d’Alene.
McCormack Properties will appear before Kootenai County commissioners Wednesday to argue that it has been unable to start work on the $2.2 million, 92-home subdivision because of litigation. McCormack’s two-year development permit expired Jan. 5.
The Rural Kootenai Organization has two lawsuits pending against the county, alleging commissioners erred in approving the project. One suit is before the Idaho Supreme Court, and the other is in Kootenai County District Court.
“We would have started if we had received timely adjudication from the Supreme Court,” said Mike McCormack, who owns the development company. The company didn’t want to begin spending millions of dollars with the threat of litigation hanging over the development, he said.
“We have patiently waited and paid handsomely for our attorney to work next to the county’s attorney,” McCormack said. Considering that and the fact that the county commissioners originally approved the development, “it seems only fair that they would give us some sort of extension.”
The Rural Kootenai Organization, however, will be on hand Wednesday to oppose McCormack’s project.
“This is still before the Supreme Court,” said Denise Clark, president of Rural Kootenai. “Nothing has been done with the property.”
There still are questions about sewage disposal and whether the property can be considered contiguous to the Coeur d’Alene city limits, she said.
Kootenai County Commission Chairman Dick Compton said the request is routine. While it is not certain what will happen next week, an extension is normal “if the developer is moving forward in good faith and if they have gone through the permitting process,” Compton said.
Cougar Bay has been contentious since its 1993 inception. McCormack originally proposed building six homes in a marshy area along the bay. After rural residents protested, McCormack negotiated a deal to sell the lakeside land to The Nature Conservancy for about half of market price. In return, he said he believed the dissenters wouldn’t object to his developing the rest of the Cougar Bay land southeast of U.S. Highway 95.
The Rural Kootenai Organization sued the county in District Court after the preliminary development plan was approved. Both sides claimed victory in Judge Craig Kosonen’s ruling.
But Rural Kootenai’s attorneys appealed the ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court. The court has made a decision, McCormack said, but has not issued its formal ruling. The details of that ruling are not known.
Rural Kootenai also filed suit in District Court against the commissioners after they gave final approval to the Cougar Bay development. A ruling is expected any time on that suit.
McCormack said he is prepared to immediately start work on the development if the state Supreme Court rules in his favor on the first suit.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SUBDIVISION HEARING The Kootenai County Commissioners will have a hearing on the Cougar Bay subdivision Feb. 18, beginning at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Building at 451 Government Way in Coeur d’Alene.